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Time to Reflect 


This week marks Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday. In part, because it belongs to no religion, it is a day that all people can claim as their own to give thanks, in their way. This marks its 150th birthday. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln set aside Thursday, Nov. 26, as a day of thanks. The previous week he had just delivered the Gettysburg Address declaring a new birth of freedom in the United States, commemorating the bloodiest battle on American soil. At the beginning of the year, he had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, making the flight of slaves in the South to Union battle lines a march to true freedom and giving the Civil War a new meaning. After the defeats of the Army of Northern Virginia at Antietam in 1862 and Gettysburg in 1863, the tide of the war had swung.

Over the past 150 years, the day grew from a day of reverence to be commercialized into marking the beginning of shopping for the Christmas season—a clearly religious holiday also transformed into a commercial spectacle...